Here is the Google’s answer to Apple’s AirPods and it is brilliant! Today we have a Google PixelBuds and unlike Apple’s futuristic design and autonomy between the two earphones, the Pixel Buds are connected with a wire to each other. They are wireless, just like the AirPods, and besides the connecting wire, there are a lot more similarities than differences between the two. The Pods come in three colors – black, white and gray and each has a small magnetic case that serves a double function – it holds and protects the plugs from the outside world and it also charges them while inside. You can use the juice in the box the charge the Pixel Buds up to four times before the case itself needs a charging.
Google Pixel Buds Review
The Pixel Buds are relatively easy to use and to fit in your ear. They are not an ear canal headphones so no chance of outside noise blocking. You can still hear your surroundings which can be a very good thing if you’re at a crosswalk and you need to hear upcoming vehicles, for example. The cloth cable that is connecting them has an extra feature – you can form a sort of an anchor to improve the fit inside your ear. You can pull it in our out of the earphone base in order to make the fit tighter or looser.
They were fairly comfortable during our tests although we had some ear pain after a few hours of music playback. See, the base is plastic and not the type of a soft plastic that some non-adjustable earphones come with. They are OK, for most people, I guess, but I, personally, much prefer earphones with removable rubber tips. It might be a just a personal preference though.
The Google Buds have touch controls just like the AirPods. The touch controls are located in the right earphone and they are very easy to operate too. While testing the Buds, we noticed that Google assistant on our Pixel phone was much faster with the Buds than without them. There is no need to wait for confirmation from Google that it is recording or it is about to start listening – it was almost an instant experience. All you have to do is hold your finger at the touch interface and start speaking. Google starts recording instantly – as soon as you tap and hold your finger. The rest of the controls are very easy to remember too – single tap stops or starts music playback, swipe forward for volume up and swipe back for volume down.
At the moment, you can’t skip any songs or podcasts by using the touch controls – you’ll have to ask Google assistant to do that for you. It is a bit annoying as I have a very big playlist and more often than not I do like to skip the occasional song and I can’t use the touch controls for that. Google says that a future update might add that functionality, but as always – nothing is set in stone and you might get it with the next update and might just as well not get it. They don’t guarantee it so keep that in mind.
The Pixel Buds sound great! Yes, I really liked the way they reproduce sound. Since, as I mentioned above, they don’t go into your ear canal they don’t block outside sounds and they can’t deliver really accurate soundstage, they sounded better than most wireless earbuds we tested, including the Apple AirPods. Yes, we liked them better than the Apple ones. The sound is just cleaner and the bass is more pronounced. Actually, they sound really bassy for non-ear canal plugs. Really warm and pleasant experience.
The advertised battery life of the Pixel buds is about 5 hours, but we couldn’t get that. With wireless, it all depends on the volume selected, distance from the source and more. While tested, our sample kit managed to stay powered on for a bit over four hours. Four hours and nine minutes, to be exact. I wasn’t blasting music at a high level either – just a bit under 40% volume, give or take. We used Google Assistant extensively, listened to lots of music and even watched a movie with them. We recharged them 9 times during the time we had them and each time they lasted a bit over 4 hours plus/minus a few minutes difference.
The really cool feature is the charging case that the Buds come with. It has plastic molds that the Pods fit in and there are metal plugs in each mold that charges the earphones. The case itself is kept close by a neat magnetic mechanism that makes it really easy to open and close. It is strong enough to prevent most accidental opening but light enough to open them without exuberant force. The case is wrapped in grayish fabric with a neat Google G logo in the center of it. There is a battery integrated into the box that serves as a mini power bank. You can use the case to charge your Pixel Buds up to four times before the case needs charging too.
Another benefit of the Pixel Buds case is that it has a little canal on the inside that you can wrap the Pixel cable around. it prevents tangling and it another neat feature when storing the earphones. We all hate tangled earphones and they suffering involved with the untangling them.
That is probably the most exciting and convenient feature of the Pixel pods. They instantly pair to your Pixel phone and you can use Google Assistant right away. Just touch and hold your finger at the right earpiece and you’re good to go. Google starts recording your query the moment you touch and hold the earphone and sends the question the moment you lift your finger off.
The most important feature, of course, is the built-in Google translate on the go. It is a very exciting feature and it works well too. It is very simple to use – you speak your phrase or a sentence in the earbuds while holding the button. Google works its magic and your phone translates your speech to the person in front of you. Then they respond to your phone and the Pixel Buds magically translate the sentence back in your ear.
It sounds too good to be true to most and it probably is, but it worked quite well in our tests. The auto-translate supports 40 languages at the moment. The translation is not always perfect but it can save a lot of awkward situations while traveling abroad, for example. The quality of translation is about the same as Google Translate so not perfect every time, but it usually detects the general idea and it is fairly accurate for an artificial intelligence.
Review VerdictAs you can see from this Pixel Buds review is that it is a solid product to buy, especially if you can pair it with a Pixel phone. Actually, you can pair the Buds with an iPhone and they work OK with Siri, but it is not the same as using them in their native environment. Battery life is better than expected for the size of the device. Autotranslate works wonders too but I felt it could be a bit better implemented. It is fast and somewhat accurate but it is not the same as knowing the language, of course. It is a bit awkward speaking back a forth on your phone when you can just type your question on it and pass the phone to the stranger like before.